Up to 3000 are expected to attend a candle-lit vigil this Friday in Hyde Park to commemorate the life and death of Harambe, the Gorilla killed earlier this year at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ohio. The event, which was set up by third year Computing student Paul Balaji in response to a similar event in Durham, has already engaged with over 14000 people including 5700 people who have shown interest.
The vigil marks the five month anniversary of the death of Harambe, a Western lowland gorilla who rose to prominence in May after being shot when a three-year-old boy climbed into his zoo enclosure. Harambe has become the subject of various internet memes since his controversial death, including the popular ‘Dicks out for Harambe’. Many have noted the surprising longevity the meme, which has been attributed to the reluctance of corporations to co-opt his image as part of their marketing campaigns.
Speaking to felix, Paul Balaji described his initial expectations for the event: “It was literally just a bit of banter, maybe I could invite a couple of hundred friends, 20 show up and we can chill in Hyde Park for a bit and then head to the Union or go out somewhere.”
It was literally just a bit of banter, maybe I could invite a couple of hundred friends, 20 show up and we can chill in Hyde Park for a bit and then head to the Union
Despite the popularity of the candlelight vigil on Facebook, it’s possible that the event could run into trouble with park authorities; Royal Parks policy requires that any gathering over 40 people must contact the park office. However, Paul was more optimistic: “The event is so big people are actually questioning whether it’s gonna happen or not – it will happen. At the end of the day, if people turn up with candles, be respectful to Harambe and don’t act like idiots - I think it’ll be a fun little meet up.”